Your heart starts pounding... breathing becomes labored, and your head starts to ache. You wipe the sweat from your forehead and try to gather your thoughts. Have you just had a heart attack? Not at all. This is your body's reaction to excessive noise.
"Studies of the physiological and psychological effects of noise...indicate that protracted noise can impair one's hearing, dry the mouth, dilate pupils, raise cholesterol, elevate blood pressure, burden the heart. Constant noise can bring on irritability, depression, aggression. It can interfere with the learning ability of children," N.R. Kleinfield writes in the article New York Quiet? Never. Quieter? Maybe. Listen up. published in the New York Times.
Apartment renters are even more susceptible to hearing loss because the noise levels are intensified in smaller spaces. Once sound enters the apartment, the wall connecting you to your neighbor vibrates - acting like a giant speaker.
If you share a wall with a noisy neighbor, you should take these steps - in order - to try and solve the problem:
1. Tell the neighbor - politely - that you can hear their stereo/TV/voices/running screaming kids/etc. There's a good chance they don't realize that they are being too loud. Ideally the problem will be fixed, and you can rest easy. Write down the date on which you confronted your neighbor - you never know when you might need it again.
2. If you receive a negative response, or no response at all, approach your neighbors again, but this time supply them with a copy of your lease. Chances are, there is a clause within the lease stating your right to "quiet enjoyment." You might also give them a copy of your local noise laws. Sometimes there are fines for excess noise. You can find your local noise laws at city hall, a public law library or the public library. Give your neighbor one dated copy of the lease and/or ordinance laws and keep a second copy (these are good for your records if the problem continues.)
3. No luck? This time you'll need to give your neighbor a letter informing them that you are willing to take this problem to the landlord. A letter might look like this:
Dear Suzy Neighbor,
On January 5, 2000, I talked to you about the excessive noise coming from your apartment. I informed you that the Twister Parties lasting until 5am violate the local noise laws, the lease, and disrupt my sleep. I asked if you would please lower your volume or else move the parties to a more reasonable hour. This request was ignored, and on January 11, 2000, I provided you with a copy of the local noise laws and our lease - both of which provide me with a right to "quiet enjoyment." Once again, my request has been ignored, and if by January 20th, nothing has changed, I will need to approach the landlord with this problem. I hope we reach an agreement before I am forced to contact the landlord.
Thank You For Your Time,
4. Still no luck? It's time to tattle. No one wants to be the Narc... but this may be the only way to live peacefully. Make a copy of the letter, and discuss the problem with your landlord. For additional support (and so you don't feel like such a tattle tail) you might want to ask your other neighbors if the noise is bothering them, too. You might be able to get a petition signed by the other neighbors, and arguing with a group will typically lead to faster results. Regardless of whether or not you can get support from your neighbors, if the noise is bothering you, don't just learn to live with it! Living with excessive noise could actually be a threat to your health.
Once the problem is in the landlord's hands, you can de-stress a little bit. It's amazing how quiet those parties will get once the host has to worry about eviction! And if the noise-maker doesn't listen to the landlord, maybe your new neighbors will respect the "quiet enjoyment" law a little better than the last ones!
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